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New Kenyan warship to boost fight against piracy

By - Philip Mwakio | September 6th 2012

By Philip Mwakio

A decade after it was ordered, the Kenya Navy took delivery of its Sh4.1 billion ($52 million) warship, the KNS Jasiri.

The ship is equipped with long-range cannons, missile launchers, machine guns and advanced radar and communications systems. This is expected to boost its efforts to combat piracy and militancy.

The Kenyan Defence Forces, alongside other soldiers, are under the Africa Union Mission in Somalia, which is believed to be preparing an assault on the southern Somali port of Kismayu, the stronghold of the Islamist insurgent group, Al Shabbab.

The KNS Jasiri was ordered in July 2003 and was supposed to be delivered in August 2005, but never arrived due to a contractual dispute between Kenya and contractor Euromarine Industries (with Spanish shipbuilder Astilleros Gondan as subcontractor).

Euromarine sued the government of Kenya after payments were suspended in June 2005. The Kenyan government recalled its officers on July 18, 2005.

Then 90 per cent complete vessel was docked at the port of Ribadeo, Asturias province, Spain. In September 2006 Kenya sent a fact-finding team to Spain to investigate the KNS Jasiri.

It concluded that the vessel just needed to be armed and complete sea testing and crew training before being ready for service. The 1,400 tonne vessel is 85m long, 13m wide and has a maximum speed of 28 knots (50km/h). It carries between 60 and 81 personnel.

Kenya has been strengthening its navy, particularly in light of increased Somali pirate activity off its coast and its fight against Somalia-based Al Shabaab militia. In August last year the Kenyan navy officially took delivery of its KNS Nyayo and KNS Umoja patrol ships, which returned from a two and a half year mid life refit by Fincantieri in Italy.

The Nyayo class vessels are fast attack craft built in Britain by Vosper Thornycroft and delivered in 1988. They are 56.7 metres long, with a displacement of approximately 450 tonnes each and can reach a maximum speed of almost 40 knots and accommodate a crew of approximately 45.

Kenya’s coastline

During a colourful ceremony last week at the Kenya Navy, Mtongwe Naval base presided over by Kenya Defence Force (KDF) Chief of Defence, General Julius Karangi, the new vessel which docked under the command of Lt Col. Mohamed Aden Mohamed was unveiled to the few invited guests.

Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment notes that the Kenyan Navy is the best equipped force on the East African coast and benefits from regular training exercises and assistance from the United Kingdom, United States, French and South African navies.

Its primary objective is protecting Kenya’s 500km long coastline, particularly against the rising threat of piracy from its northern neighbour Somalia. The United States has made funding available for a series of coastal surveillance improvements, including new patrol boats and coastal radar. In 2006 the US government donated Archangel class and Defender class boats to Kenya in to help combat piracy and drugs and arms trafficking.




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